8 Headache Treatments to Try at Home
Got a terrible sinus headache? You know it’s the headache that gets worse when you bend down or over. It starts at the forehead or cheeks and radiates out from there. A stuffy nose, jaw or toothache or an earache, can also accompany sinus headaches. If you’ve got a sinus headache and need relief, here are eight things you can try at home.
Just Add Water
Sinus headaches are caused when the sinus cavities in the head do not drain properly. They become inflamed and can be filled with mucous, pus or other secretions. Warm water can help get things draining again.
1. Breathe Steam. Boil water and rosemary on the stovetop; remove pot from stove and cover your head and the pot with a towel. Breathe in the steam. Be careful to remain a safe distance from pot of water. The rosemary has antibiotic properties and the steam will loosen dried mucous and promote drainage. Repeat several times a day.
2. Use a Humidifier. A humidifier can also help. The extra moisture in the air thins mucous making it easier to drain. It also helps reduce inflammation. Cool mist humidifiers produce less white dust and are preferable to warm mist humidifiers.
3. Nasal Irrigation. A sterile saline solution can be used to gently irrigate the nasal passages and sinuses to remove dried secretions, dust, debris and other irritants. Neti pots, nasal irrigation bottles and devices with electric motors are all available. Be sure to always use a fresh sterile solution.
Over the counter medications for sinus headache are focused on reduction of pain and congestion. The most common are NSAIDs (non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) and decongestants. They are available alone or in combination. Combination formulas usually have the designation “D” to indicate the presence of a decongestant, such as Tylenol Sinus Pain D.
4. NSAIDs. These reduce pain, inflammation and fever. The most common NSAIDs are aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen and naproxen sodium. They are sold under their generic names as well as brands such as Tylenol, Advil and Aleve. These medications can cause stomach upset or bleeding so take with caution and do not exceed the recommended dose.
5. Decongestants. These medications work by reducing inflammation in the blood vessels and tissues that line the nasal passages and sinuses. The reduced inflammation promotes better drainage and this reduces the pressure that causes pain. They are available in oral and topical formulas. Topical formulas such as nasal sprays should be used with extreme caution. The most common formulas are as pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) and phenylephrine (Contac Cold). People with high blood pressure or certain other conditions should not take decongestants unless directed by a doctor.
Switch Up Your Diet
You should always eat a well-balanced diet. If you have sinus headaches there are some things you can add to bring relief.
6. Ginger. Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties. Boil fresh ginger slices to create a tea. Drink the tea while warm. Warm liquids open sinuses and the ginger will reduce swelling. You can also add ginger to your cooking or chew raw fresh ginger. Fresh ginger is more potent and effective than dried or ground ginger. Gingersnap cookies don’t count!
7. Vitamin C. Many sinus headaches are caused by bacterial or viral infections. Vitamin C gives your immune system the boost it needs to wage germ warfare. Drink juices high in Vitamin C such as citrus or tomato juice and eat foods such as pineapple and broccoli. Supplements are a handy way of getting extra Vitamin C.
8. Tea. Warm green tea, black tea or lemon grass tea will reduce pain and ease inflammation. Add a slice of lemon or ginger to your tea to give it an extra sinus headache-fighting boost.
See the ENT for Recurring Sinus Headaches
If you have sinus headaches time and again, it’s time to seek professional relief. Schedule an appointment with an ear nose and throat specialist (ENT). Your headaches may be the result of chronic sinusitis or uncontrolled allergies. The ENT can determine the source of the congestion and provide a course of treatment to put an end to sinus headaches.